JON CARDINELLI rates the 15 teams after 13 rounds of the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.
The Super Rugby conference system makes for confusing reading regarding the respective team standings in the tournament.
SARugbymag.co.za’s chief writer identifies the form teams as well as the bottom-feeders.
1. Crusaders (9-2-1) – last week’s ranking: 1
The Crusaders put on an attacking masterclass to thrash the Bulls 45-13 at Loftus Versfeld. They’re now seven points clear of the Hurricanes at the top of the New Zealand standings.
2. Hurricanes (9-1-2) – last week’s ranking: 2
The Hurricanes beat the Blues 22-12 on Friday to strengthen their claim for a home playoff. They will be favourites to bank another important win against the Jaguares next week.
3. Sharks (5-1-6) – last week’s ranking: 3
The Sharks conceded two late tries to lose to the Chiefs in Hamilton. Fortunately, they did enough to claim a losing bonus point to finish the round at the top of the South African conference table.
4. Highlanders (5-2-5) – last week’s ranking: 6
The win against the Jaguares will certainly boost the Highlanders’ playoff hopes. Aaron Mauger’s side will tackle the Lions on the Highveld in the next round.
5. Rebels (6-5) – last week’s ranking: 8
The Rebels beat the Reds on Friday to strengthen their claim for the Aussie conference title. Another win against the Bulls will edge them closer towards a home quarter-final.
6. Jaguares (6-5) – last week’s ranking: 5
The Jaguares began their tour to Australasia with a loss to the Highlanders, and ultimately blew a golden opportunity to top the South African conference. Their chances of climbing the ladder won’t improve when they face the Hurricanes in the next round.
7. Brumbies (6-6) – last week’s ranking: 9
The Brumbies scored a bonus-point win over the Sunwolves on Sunday to move to the top of the Aussie conference. They’ve played one more game than the Rebels, though, and may be overtaken in the next round when they have a bye.
8. Vodacom Bulls (6-5) – last week’s ranking: 4
The Bulls’ defence was hopeless in the recent fixture against the Crusaders, leaking seven tries in all. The Bulls will be hard-pressed to bounce back when they face the Rebels in Melbourne in round 14.
9. Lions (6-5) – last week’s ranking: 11
The Lions edged the Waratahs at Ellis Park to claim four valuable log points. They will face a tougher challenge, though, when they host the Highlanders next weekend.
10. Stormers (5-6) – last week’s ranking: 7
The Stormers have it all to do after enjoying a bye in round 13. Robbie Fleck’s charges have to pick up a log point – if not a win – in their next clash against the Crusaders to remain in the hunt for a playoff place.
11. Chiefs (4-2-6) – last week’s ranking: 13
The Chiefs fired late to beat the Sharks in Hamilton and edge ahead of the Blues on the New Zealand conference table. The two teams will clash in Auckland next week.
12. Waratahs (4-7) – last week’s ranking: 12
The Waratahs finished their South African tour with two losses. Daryl Gibson’s side sits at fourth in the Aussie conference and will need to beat the Reds in the next round to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
13. Blues (4-7) – last week’s ranking: 10
The Blues slumped to another defeat on Friday. The next clash against the Chiefs will have a bearing on which team finishes at the bottom of the New Zealand standings.
14. Reds (5-6) – last week’s ranking: 14
The Reds will be looking to bounce back when they face the Waratahs in round 14. Another defeat could end their playoff ambitions.
15. Sunwolves (2-10) – last week’s ranking: 15
The Sunwolves went down 33-0 to the Brumbies in Canberra on Sunday. The Japan-based side looks set to finish the season at the bottom of the overall log.
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